To be a cinematographer on any skill level, the film maker needs to know photography, but why? Well, I had the same question two years ago, so I took up photography, and boy, I'm glad I did.
As a cinematographer, important areas to know include framing, rule of thirds, aspect ratio, frame rate, prime lenses, video format, and so much more. So what's the best way to learn these skills? Everybody says film school, and yes, that is the answer. However, it's not the only answer.
Photography gave me a huge leap into the world of cinematography. It's helped me to learn and understand new techniques I was never aware of before. At the same time, it’s fun and encourages film makers to be creative. Being a cinematographer, a person needs to have an excellent knowledge in the area of photography.
Photography forces the photographer to focus on just one image at a time in order to produce a successful shot. It causes one to think about what the image portrays and what the photographer communicates through that image. If creators can pay close attention to one picture, and if a picture is just one frame, then they should also be able to repeat this with a video. Many directors go frame by frame, analyzing parts of the film which requires much attention to detail.
But it's more than that. As a filmmaker, one needs to take framing seriously. Learning how to frame a shot can take an unbelievable amount of time to fully understand. How to frame two actors talking to one other, how to frame them side by side or how to frame three people, can be challenging.
Although photography is different to film, in order to further skills and drastically improve competition, learning photography offers benefits as it requires an extra amount of work and expertise in order to switch from one to the other, therefore improving overall film performance and efficiency!
I started film in 2011, and even two years into it, I still didn't fully understand shutter speed, F stops, and I didn't even have an idea what a prime lens was. Photography causes people to pay attention to these things if they are in manual mode.
Being forced to play around with manual mode on a camera is important, and fun. Therefore, a great deal of time needs to be invested in figuring out how to change the shutter speed and ISO, so that creators will understand cameras better.
So get a camera in your hands and start shooting. Practice makes permanent.
Take a look at some simple tricks to get a head start!
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